“Do I have to choose where to live?”
This is the type of question you don’t want your kids asking you, as it could reflect the potential anxiety your kids maybe under. So, let me tell you about my situation and how you should NOT tell your kids that you are separating from your Mr/Ms Ex.
Chances are that you have both decided to separate or are just have some time apart to figure things out, which can also mean that you are both potentially ‘processing’ what this means for YOU, let alone trying to figure out what it means for your current family unit. The time before you break the news to your kids may have been volatile or in some rare cases quite amicable. So, let’s go back a little to my situation when we broke the news.
The Day we told them:
It was very emotional.
I am hoping that by explaining our scenario, you may take what I learnt and perhaps diffuse (or even remove) the ‘horrible’ as I don’t think anything that anyone can say will ease the ‘emotional’ part.
To recap my kids were 3 & 6 years old. We sat them down as a family, in our family home on the apprehensive principle suggested by Mr Ex that we would tell the kids the truth or at least a muted age appropriate version of it.
Our family life proceeding this moment, had been calm. There was minimal conflict and, I thought I was relatively happy in my mind. It was peaceful.
My Ex started to tell the kids that he had done some things and felt that he needed to leave home and me, to figure things out…EXCEPT that mid-way through, he started crying and ran out of the room!
I was left with two very emotional kids, explaining our situation by myself. So, with hindsight now very clear here are 10 tips!
Based on my personal experience, here are some tips on how to break the news to your kids from a mum who has been there:
1. Plan ahead
Attempt being on the same page with your soon to be Mr/Ms Ex about:
When, Where & How
Prepare ahead for potential questions the kids may ask you. Prepare to answer questions about the future, i.e. where will I live? With who.
2. Understand that each child may process things a little differently
My kids were 3 and 6, one was an introvert and the other was very expressive.
3. Attempt to keep your VIBE child centred
Kids usually feed off your vibe, so keeping your vibe positive and re-assuring will help them feel more comfortable. Consider leaving all potential contempt and animosity you may feel towards your ex, outside of this conversation with the kids. They will have enough to process after this conversation with them.
4. Welcome feedback or input by your kids
During the conversation consider encouraging them to express their feelings. After the conversation or revealing of the news, making a conscious effort to make 1-1 time with each of your kids to check in may help them open up and allow you in.
5. Age appropriate explanations
With our kids, we kept it pretty simple as they were young and their attention span was also quite short. For example, we didn’t lie to the kids but we softened the explanation so that it went something like: “daddy has made a few mistakes, and has decided that he would like to separate from mummy”.
6. Setup Distractions
Post breaking the news, I continued to setup play dates and surrounded them with family (from both sides of the family, which was pretty normal for them). This really provided comfort and provided a little more re-assurance that somethings remained “normal”.
7. Keep it Simple
Similar to number 5, keeping things like their daily routine simple, keep any explanation about what lays in the future informed but with less of the potential hostility or bad vibes that may naturally come from being in the place you are in with plenty of hugs!
8. Be HONEST
They may replay all you say periodically as they process it (least mine did), so be honest (relative to their age).
9. Keep the Current Routine
As much as humanely possible! This seemed to help support and comfort their little vibe. I made every attempt to continue the same weekly routine as we had previously, this seemed to help a lot!
10. Do NOT run out of the room!
No more needs to be said here :)
Finally, it is a tough time for all of you. So, plan ahead and provide the re-assurance they will need with endless amounts of HUGS and LOVE!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is general information only and is not provided as a substitute for legal/professional advice. If you have a legal/financial/ any other issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or professional before making a decision about your options or personal situation. TheSeparationExchange.com cannot provide legal/professional advice.
My name is Anju, after going through a “surprise” separation and divorce was a rebirth which awakened me!
After a period of sadness and struggle, revealed a person who was forced to sort her shi# out and find the strength needed to raise 2 young kids without a partner!
And so, a new journey began with new dreams: www.TheSeparationExchange.com
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